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Hinchey Statement on EIA Adoption of Marcellus Shale Gas Reserve Estimate 5 Times Smaller than Previous Estimate

August 24, 2011

Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Energy Information Agency's (EIA) adoption of shale gas reserve estimates that are 80 percent lower than what the agency had previously reported. Hinchey had called into question the agency's previous estimates in a June 27 letter to EIA, which followed a report in The New York Times that detailed EIA's use of data from industry-biased sources and intra-agency disagreements regarding gas reserve estimates.

Yesterday the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released revised estimates of gas resources in the Marcellus Shale. The new estimates were significantly larger than what the USGS had announced in 2002, but five times smaller than what the Energy Information Agency had published in its Annual Energy Outlook 2011. A news storyfrom Bloomberg News indicated that EIA would accept the new estimates.

"In June I wrote to the U.S. Energy Information Agency questioning its shale gas reserve estimates and for good reason. Yesterday, the U.S. Geological Survey announced new reserve estimates for Marcellus Shale gas that are five times smaller than what the EIA indicated just a few months ago. I applaud the EIA for announcing it will adopt the USGS estimates because they are based on the best available science. That is the right decision. However, I remain concerned about the processes which lead to the original estimates, and I have additional questions about how this change will impact the outlook for shale gas.

"Considering the reckless way in which hydraulic fracturing has been carried out in other parts of the country, it is important that we understand all of the environmental and economic impacts that would result if drilling were to move forward in our state. That's why it is essential that the public, the markets and policy makers have unbiased shale gas reserve estimates. These numbers are needed to make good decisions about our energy future. We've got to get this right, and I'm going to continue working to ensure that we do."

Hinchey is a leader in the effort to protect drinking water and the environment from the risks of hydraulic fracturing. He is a co-author of the FRAC Act, which would mandate public disclosure of chemicals used in frack fluid and allow the EPA to regulate fracking activities under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The congressman also authored the appropriations language that led to the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study on hydraulic fracturing.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey